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Extreme weather events destroying our economy in a big way, indicates official dataExtreme weather events destroying our economy in a big way, indicates official data
October 15, 2019

Sporadic natural events like floods and droughts have made headlines in recent times. An official report, which was released in April this year, among other things, shows that extreme weather events have taken a huge toll on both human and cattle lives, personal property and crops grown by farmers and farm workers. A chapter on extreme weather events and natural disasters in the report entitled EnviStats India 2019, Vol. I: Environment Statistics reveals that more than 2,100 Indians died every year because of extreme natural events between 2001-02 and 2018-19. Almost 14.8 lakh cattle lives were lost and roughly 2.3 crore houses/ huts were damaged owing to extreme natural events in the last 18 years. On an average nearly 37 lakh hectare of cropped area got affected each year by such events during that span. Please check table-1 for details. Table 1: Year-wise damage due to extreme natural events in...

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Can we prevent rural suicides? Yes, it is possible, says a recent WHO-FAO publicationCan we prevent rural suicides? Yes, it is possible, says a recent WHO-FAO publication
September 23, 2019

Almost one in every five suicides in the world is committed by self-poisoning with pesticide, which mostly occur in rural, agricultural areas of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), states a new publication entitled 'Preventing Suicide: A resource for pesticide registrars and regulators'. Published jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the booklet says that the adoption of green revolution technology in LMICs (including India) since the 1950s brought with it the practice of intensive application of hazardous chemical pesticides in farming, among other things. The presence of agricultural pesticides in the vicinity (viz. in homes and workplaces) makes it possible for persons with suicidal inclinations to consume such poison impulsively. Although highly hazardous pesticides in the high-income countries are either banned, restricted or used only by professional sprayers using mechanized approaches, they are readily available in the LMICs thanks to...

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Merchandise exports affected by global slowdown but not export of servicesMerchandise exports affected by global slowdown but not export of services
September 15, 2019

Is it the case that global economic downturn instead of shrinking domestic demand has affected our economy more? If the aforesaid statement is true, then ideally the trade related data should indicate improvement in our imports and deceleration in the country's exports. However, that is not the case and we get a mixed picture.   A press release by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry dated 13th September, 2019 shows that the country's overall export of 'merchandise' (viz. goods and commodities) and 'services' (such as transport, insurance, financial services etc.) increased by 3.20 percent in April-August 2019-20 over the corresponding period last financial year to arrive at US$ 227.36 billion. As against that, our total imports comprising 'merchandise' and 'services' declined by -1.18 percent in April-August 2019-20 over the same period last financial year to attain US$ 268.24 billion. Kindly, consult chart-1 for details. Although export of 'merchandise' contracted by -1.53 percent...

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Adopt a green growth strategy to boost the sluggish automobile sectorAdopt a green growth strategy to boost the sluggish automobile sector
September 9, 2019

Among the measures announced by the Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman on 23rd August, 2019 to arrest economic downturn, the following are noteworthy: * Allow Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) vehicles (which are purchased till 31st March, 2020) to remain operational for the entire period of registration; * Government shall lift the ban on purchase of new vehicles for replacing all old vehicles by its various departments; * In order to make corporate and fleet buyers prepone their decisions to purchase vehicles, a higher depreciation has been allowed (raising it to 30 percent from the existing 15 percent); * Government will consider various measures to revive demand for automobiles including scrappage policy (for example, car buyers get government subsidies for replacing their old vehicles); * The hike in registration fee has been deferred till June 2020; The above-mentioned demand-side steps (most measures announced by the FM are supply-side in nature...

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Dip in tractor sales indicate further deepening of rural distressDip in tractor sales indicate further deepening of rural distress
August 31, 2019

In the financial year 2017-18 when tractor sale touched new heights, it was said by many of the NDA (viz. National Democratic Alliance) government supporters that rural demand has revived on account of adequate monsoon rainfall and higher minimum support prices for crops. Many economists and newspaper columnists also denied the existence of any rural distress. An alternative perspective, however, was also presented by rural economists like Dr. Himanshu who teaches at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. He said that farm loan waivers announced in states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra and lower interest rates helped in improving tractor sales. It is because of the loan waiver announced in some states that the erstwhile defaulting farmers (who suffered from debt burden) became eligible to get new formal loans for purchasing tractors. Since the volume of tractor sales was low in two consecutive crop years (viz. 2014-15 and 2015-16)...

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